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Your legal rights now you are pregnant
 
Your legal rights now you are pregnant
As a pregnant woman you are entitled to certain rights and benefits which will vary depending on your circumstances and national insurance contributions.

As a pregnant woman you are entitled to certain rights and benefits which will vary depending on your circumstances and national insurance contributions. Full details are available from your local Benefits Office or the Citizens Advice Bureau, who should be able to calculate exactly what you can claim for. Your employer, HR department or trade union will be able to advise you what maternity leave and pay you are entitled to.

Since 6 April 2003 pregnant employess and their employers now benefit from revised, simplified rights to maternity leave.

Length of maternity leave
Pregnant employees are entitled to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave, regardless of how long they have worked for their employer.

Women who have completed 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer by the beginning of the 14th week before their EWC can take additional maternity leave. Additional maternity leave starts immediately after ordinary maternity leave and continues for a further 26 weeks. Additional maternity leave is usually unpaid although a woman may have contractual rights to pay during her period of additional maternity leave.

Notice of intention to take maternity leave
A pregnant employee must notify her employer of her intention to take maternity leave by the end of the 15th week before her EWC, unless this is not reasonably practicable. She must tell her employer that she is pregnant, the week her baby is expected to be born and when she wants her maternity leave to start.

A woman can change her mind about when she wants to start her leave providing she tells her employer at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not reasonably practicable).

Employers are required to respond to a woman’s notification of her leave plans within 28 days unless the woman has varied that date, in which case the employer must respond with 28 days of the start of maternity leave. An employer must write to his employee, setting out the date on which he expects her to return to work if she takes her full entitlement to maternity leave.

The earliest date a woman is able to start her maternity leave is the beginning of the 11th week before her baby is due.

Returning to work after maternity leave
There is no longer provision for an employer to write to a woman before the end of her ordinary maternity leave period to ask the date on which her child was born and whether she intends to return after her additional maternity leave period. This means that a woman who intends to return to work at the end of her full maternity leave entitlement is not required to give any further notification to her employer.

An employee who wants to return to work before the end of her maternity leave needs to give her employer 28 days' notice of the date she wants to return to work.

Sickness
A woman’s maternity leave starts automatically if she is absent from work for a pregnancy related illness during the four weeks before the start of her EWC, regardless of when she has said she actually wants her maternity leave to start.

Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance
The Department for Work and Pensions has made changes to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Maternity Allowance (MA). The most important of these increase the length of time covered by SMP or MA and increase the amount paid.

Women who are entitled to SMP or MA now receive SMP or MA for 26 weeks.

Women who are entitled to SMP or MA who give birth prematurely, are entitled to receive SMP or MA for 26 weeks.

Since 6 April 2003, the standard rates of SMP and MA have increased to £100 a week (or 90% of the woman's average weekly earnings if this is less than £100 a week). There is no change to the current earnings-related rate of SMP (90% of average weekly earnings) which applies for the first six weeks of the pay period.

An elligible woman will either get:

SMP from their employer worth 90% of their earnings for 6 weeks, followed by 20 weeks at £100 (or 90% of earnings for the full 26 weeks if this is less than £100 a week).

or

MA from their local Jobcentre Plus / social security office worth £100 a week for 26 weeks (or 90% of their earnings for 26 weeks if this is less than £100 a week).

Full details of the existing SMP and MA schemes can be found in the leaflet NI17A (April 2001 version) which is available from your local social security office or Jobcentre Plus office.

Source: Maternity Leave Changes, Department of Trade and Industry

What to do and when


As soon as pregnancy is confirmed:
1. Ask your doctor or midwife for form FW8
2. Advise your dentist if you need treatment.
3. If you are getting supplementary benefits advise your benefits office; check leaflets MV.11, H.11 and G.11.
4. Advise your employer.
5. If you are unemployed or sick, check leaflet N1.17a and ask your social security office about maternity allowance claim.
1. This allows you to apply for free prescriptions
2. To apply for free dental treatment.
3. To ascertain your rights to free glasses, free milk and vitamins and help with hospital fares.
4. To ensure that you suffer no loss of pay for attending antenatal appointments.
5. It can affect the amount of maternity allowance you get

26 weeks
Ask at your antenatal for forms BM4 and Mat B1, and put in your application. You can apply now for maternity grant or allowance.

28 days prior to stopping work
Inform your employer in writing: the date you intend to stop work, the week your baby is due, and whether you intend to return to work.

29 weeks
If you are getting supplementary benefit, claim payments for maternity clothes and your baby's needs. Maternity grant, maternity allowance, and maternity pay are paid from now.

As soon after your baby is born as possible
1.If you have had more than one baby, fill in form BM4X.
2. If your baby was late, complete form BM9.
3. Register your baby's birth.
4. Send off form CH2 or CH11A if you are a single parent.
5. Check benefits entitlement if you are on a low income.

Why do I have to do the above?
1. To claim extra maternity grant for each baby.
2. To claim extra maternity allowance.
3. To obtain the birth certificate.
4. To obtain child and one-parent benefit.
5. To see whether you are entitled to supplementary benefit, free prescriptions etc.

3 weeks after baby's birth
If you live in Scotland you must have registered your baby's birth. Scottish law requires the birth to be registered by this time.

6 weeks after baby's birth
If you live in England or Wales you must have registered your baby's birth. The law in England and Wales requires the birth to be registered by this time.

7 weeks after the date on which your baby was due.
Inform your employer in writing that you will be returning to work. This will protect your right to return to work.

3 months after your baby's birth.
If you haven't already, apply for maternity grant for single or multiple births. You may lose your right to maternity grant if you do not claim it now.

3 weeks before returning to work.
Inform your employer in writing of the date when you intend to return to work. This will protect your right to return to work.

When your baby is 29 weeks old.
This is the latest time by which you have a right to return to work. If you do not return by this time you may lose your right to do so. << back to Pregnancy
 
 

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